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Thoughts on Nioh

2 posts in this topic

After beating Dark Souls 3 around December 2016- January 2017, I took a long break from the “Souls like” games and stuck with some casual stuff outside of the Pain Train….only to find out that Nioh came out, and I saw my own imminent demise to hop aboard the Pain Train once more. While I am roughly 4 months late to the party, I decided to save up my mullah and got the game over the weekend (I will get the Dragon of the North DLC soon, and fashion myself into one of my most favorite samurais in the Sengoku era: Masamune Date). I'm only 13+ hours into the game, and I wanted to share some open thoughts and all that fun stuff on this pretty awesome game.

               First, I want to get the obvious out of the way. I find this game a lot more satisfying than the Slouls games (including Bloodborne). While I am aware that Nioh is not like the Souls series, but it still has that outer shell that sort of defines it a little. Unlike Souls where the combat can range between a slow dance to a high dodge twitch simulator, Nioh has the right kind of balance…most of the time. The combat is fluid/agile, and the Ki impulse (where you can gain parts of your stamina back) can be very satisfying once you’ve master it throughout the game. I also like the fact that there are a bunch of skill upgrades that can make the whole combat mechanic even smoother and diverse rather than mashing light attack for the win. Stances are well thought out for strategies/combos, but some stances are much more useful than others depending on your weapons. For example, I’ve only stuck with the middle stance for the katana and I would sometimes use the high stance to finish off weak and/or dying enemies. Another great feature is the Guardian Spirits. Guardian Spirits can boost passive traits and can unleash what is called a Living Weapon. The Living Weapon mode makes you temporarily(ish) invincible, making it a nice way to gain that little edge you need in combat. Guardian Spirits are both varied and useful, but some Guardian Spirits tend to be a lot more flexible for open playstyles than others (like Kato). Just like the outer shell of Souls you can level up through amrita and lose them if you die, shrines that are bonfires, shops, the usual. Upgrading stats is pretty straight forward, and I enjoy the little Badass points system in Nioh. Whenever you complete a certain challenge, you can get reputation/inspiration points which allows you to slightly increase your passive stats. Whether it would be health/luck increase, increase in amrita/money, increase in close range damage to Yokai, the list goes on.

               As for the looting system, despite my love/hate relationship with it, I actually love it. When enemies/bosses are defeated, they tend to drop loot Diablo/Borderlands style. Unlike Souls/Lords of the Fallen/Salt and Sanctuary where I pretty much just look up the “best weapon/armor in the game” and stick with it till the end of time, Nioh’s rng loot is varied and it keeps me encouraged to push through and acquire more loot. You can also farm much better loot from either revenants and/or Twilight missions. Revenants are vengeful spirits of online players that died in certain ways (kind of like PVP, but with AI). Most of the times, you can run into revenants that are 10-20 levels higher than you with superb gear (meaning all the gear you’ve acquired throughout a level are mostly worthless).  On the flip side, you can take all of that worthless gear and offer it to either the shrine or blacksmith where you can get an extra amrita to level up, sell it for some extra cash, or break it down into blacksmithing materials. Don’t like the way your equipment looks, but you like the stats? How about a refashion option that turns your gear into a more suitable style to your liking? Yes, the refashion option is literally the best of both worlds when it comes to functionality/fashion, and it creates a better “fashion Souls” than Dark Souls 3.

               The bosses within Nioh are pretty much a mixed bag. Some bosses are passive most of the times, while others are downright relentless to the point where I had to change into some extra brown pants. Speaking of which, Nioh’s story is also a bit mixed as well. I am a huge sucker for historic fiction(along with noire stuff, poetry, mindf*cks, etc.), but I kind of wish they can put a little more effort into the story instead of the usual baddie planning on world domination by using powerful objects that could eventually bite them in the ass later on. My smallest gripe is the fact that you can get staggered too easily. Normally it’s nice to retaliate from a bad decision, but this game loves to punish you heavily with staggering attacks/combos that could lead to a major whammy on your health bar or pure death if you play the game without the slightest form of concentration. Overall I’m glad I picked this up, even though I’m late to the party as usual, and I’m going to take my sweet time finishing this game side missions and all.  

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I've finally conquered the main game last night, and I must say it's quite enjoyable (most of it). All of my thoughts above stays true throughout the game, though I have one additional gripe.......those god damn 2v1 boss battles. I hate them with a venomous passion, except the Honda & Tachibana fight mostly because the fight is somewhat manageable, and Honda doesn't hound you down unlike the other bosses that are involved with the 2v1 battles. I know they're optional, but every time I see two bosses on the same screen.......


Seriously Team Ninja? Do you honestly think fighting two bosses is fair, even though all the bosses in Nioh are completely designed for 1v1 battles alone? I mean c'mon, even the rewards are downright unfulfilling. It feels like you get free Twilight books (or Justin Bieber albums) for defeating 2 muscular gents that can put you into a coma with a single punch. (Oda Nobunaga & Yuki Onna) and (Hanzo & Okatsu) are some of the most poorly designed 2v1 fights I have ever seen. The Oda & Yuki Onna fight is a mess because not only you have to worry about Oda's elemental attacks, but you also have to worry about everything that comes from Yuki Onna as well. There's too many things to worry about, and 80% of my Ki goes flying out the window Scott Pilgrim style (and don't get me started with the other BS fight). If they can balance those fights (I would say less aggression and some small attack nerfs), I might sing a different tune.

Rant aside, that particular flaw didn't stop me from enjoying this game. I'm going to tackle on some Way of the Strong missions before I go through The Dragon of the North Missions. For now, I'm not going to touch those 2v1 fights with a 100 foot pole.

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